Patrol Sizes

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The original 1908 Scouting for Boys recognized an ideal number for a Patrol and that it would, in practice, often be a pragmatic compromise.

A Patrol consists of six scouts.‘ and then immediately ‘Any lad or young man who learns scouting from this book can make himself a patrol leader and collect and train five or seven boys to be scouts.’

Clearly the actual size at any one time has always depended on a multitude of immediate and local circumstances. A six member patrol was the assumed norm, no more.

Competition Patrols

Many local Patrol competitions assume a six man patrol. Some limited total age or maximum number over an age, eg 15 based on six members of the team. A combined age of 58 was given one year, one of which could be 15+.  This gave flexibility but effectively ruled out teams of Senior Scouts (15 years and older). Some gave extra marks for demonstrating that all members of the Patrol were active participants in compiling the answers, a number demonstrated by the completed entries as each member signed the answer books. Sometimes less than complete Patrols were marked down.

Some later competitions were for diminished or made patrols. The ‘Cycle Hike’ of 1930 was for teams of three, the planners possibly reflecting the availability of equipment. The Morley Trophy of 1953, a combined hike camp and incident challenge permitted one team of four per Troop. Photographs suggest this was a standard size in the 1950’s possibly reflecting hike tent size.

Rover Patrols

Rover Crew of sufficient size were to be divided into Patrols. However, the Rover Crew as a whole was seen as ‘more durable and valuable than the patrol’ (Gilcraft Rover Scouts No. 15).

The ideal size of a Rover Crew patrol was given as ‘four or five friends’ (Rover scouting F W W Griffin 1930). There is no evidence in the Cambridge records of formal patrols in Crew of this or any other size. Local records documenting crew activities away from home do not distinguish sub sets. Similarly service roles nearer home give no indication of a named patrol from a Crew working as a distinct entity.

In the last year of recorded Rover figures the six Town Crew returned numbers of 4, 1, 3, 1, 2, 4. The University Crew were about 16, but by this time were working as a stub alongside the Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club (CUSAGC).

The very large University Rover Crew did have named College based patrols. The Crew reached a peak of 201 in 1933. The College system (each a constituent part of the University of Cambridge) was perhaps not emphasized within scouting but were rather a convenient means of dividing this number and were named patrols. The size and workings within each College Patrol are not clear.

Venture and Explorer Patrols

No suggestion of Units being run as Patrols exists in the archives for either Ventures or Explorers. In the late 2000 HQ did informally recommend the use of Patrols in larger Explorer Units.

Cambridge Archives

1979 Four District Indaba ‘made patrols of 10 – 12′ for the event, mixing between Troops. Here the term is loosely used to describe a temporary subset for the weekend.

JWR Archivist Aug 2021